HALIFAX: A Richmond County native will return with her music for a performance this weekend in St. Peter’s.
Leona Burkey will be playing at the Bras d’Or Lakes Inn in St. Peter’s on March 27 to accompany the digital release of her recently released album Sitting Tight.
“Now it’s available everywhere so people don’t have to hunt for it,” Burkey told The Reporter. “Then I have a show at the Inn this Saturday that’s sold-out. Just a fun little time to come home and play some tunes.”
Last November, Burkey was in St. Peter’s to release the new album which raised money for a great cause.
“We did a physical release late in November, before the pre-Christmas lockdown happened so I was able to do a show in St. Peter’s, the hometown show, and we were able to do that in-person which was totally awesome,” Burkey told The Reporter. “We just snuck in under the wire, but we raised a ton of money for the Strait Area Chapter of Autism Nova Scotia.”
Burkey said “Sitting Tight” was started in 2019 and completed during the pandemic. She said it was stitched together with contributions from some of her favourite musicians.
“We called it ‘Sitting Tight’ after one of the songs, then a global pandemic hit,” she noted. “We had to put it all together, get people to track at home and send in their parts. It was an exercise in audio scrapbooking but it turned out beautifully and we were able to put it out in spirt of a pandemic happening and people not able to come in to a studio like they normally would.”
And while that wasn’t the plan, Burkey said the EP turned out to be a perfect pandemic recording.
“After a very weird experience putting the record together, it actually did turn out to be a pandemic record,” she said. “It’s loose, it’s airy, there’s a lot of hope, and a little bit of struggle in there. It suits the times completely by accident. We were very lucky to have it turn out the way it did and folks really enjoying it.”
According to Burkey, this is her most honest and alt-folk offering yet; taking the listener into the grey areas between courage and retreat, grace and defiance with a touch of nostalgia in the mix.
She said the single “Morley Road” was inspired by a trip to an acoustic roots music festival at the Two Rivers Wildlife Park along the Mira River.
“There’s a couple of special bits, one is a song called ‘Morley Road. I always make sure I put a good solid dash of Cape Breton in a recording project because I want people to remember where I’m from. That’s always important to me,” she said. “We put it up as the first single, but I co-wrote it with David Stone from St. Peter’s, and it’s kind of like a modern song for the Mira.”
Burkey is a Halifax-based singer-songwriter who describes herself as “a new old soul in the rich songwriter scene on Canada’s East Coast.” She said she was known “the singer” in the small Acadian fishing village of L’Ardoise where she grew up from the age of eight.
Half a lifetime later, she said she has one foot still firmly planted in the music of her beloved Cape Breton and the other in a stew pot of sounds, influences and impressions.
Her body of work is a folk-forward collection of deeply personal vignettes that somehow resonate and are deeply appreciated by those who know her voice, according to her biography.
Burkey said her open dialogue with her audience draws from decades of live performance, recordings and travelling across the country.
After completing an EP in 2013, then smaller projects since, Burkey said she is proud this is a full-length release.
“I’ve been a song-chaser my whole life but I’m in a very happy place right now,” Burkey added. “The last few years, I’ve really been focusing on the song writing and recording side and really pushing that folk envelope. I like to tell people I have one foot in Cape Breton and the other foot is everywhere else. The sound is changing. Getting older as a person changes the writing.”
With the recording process over, and the possibility of the Atlantic Bubble remaining in place throughout the summer, Burkey added hopes that she will be able to bring her music to live crowds in the very near future.
“Everybody is just hankering to get out and play in front of people. All the other stuff is good, but the cherry on the top is always to be front of people and having that conversation in real time, that’s the good stuff,” she added. “I’m kind of looking at the show in St. Peter’s as a bit of a spring kick-off and then hopefully lining some things up and really curious to see how the summer festivals are going to shape up this year too. Hopefully we can see some movement there.”
Burkey’s new album is available in all digital platforms, including iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Apple Music.